Seeing extra apps? Turn them off.


A few weeks ago, I published a script to help remove the in-box apps from a Windows 10 image.  Some people have reported after running this script they are still seeing apps on the machine, things like Candy Crush, Twitter, and similar apps (which can vary based on your location).  So why is this happening?  It’s a feature.

The latest Windows 10 feature upgrade released this month (1511) includes a new feature that automatically installs a few apps from the Windows Store.  These apps are installed for the signed-on user, not provisioning on the machine.  So the script ignores them, as it’s only looking at provisioned apps.

So how do you get rid of these?  The simplest way is to keep them from installing in the first place.  There are two ways to do that:

  1. Don’t create reference images on a computer that is connected to the internet.  (This can be problematic for other reasons too, as OS and app updates can install while the reference image is being created.)
  2. Tell Windows to disable these features.

To disable the features, there is a group policy provided under “Computer Configuration –> Administrative Templates –> Windows Components –> Cloud Content” called “Turn off Microsoft consumer experiences”:

image

The same thing can be configured using MDM (e.g. Intune).  See https://msdn.microsoft.com/en-us/library/windows/hardware/dn904962(v=vs.85).aspx, where it talks about the “Experience/AllowWindowsConsumerFeatures” policy. 

There doesn’t appear to be an unattend.xml entry to turn this off, but given the Group Policy above, it’s easy enough to track down the associated registry key, located at “HKLM\Software\Policies\Microsoft\Windows\CloudContent,” value “DisableWindowsConsumerFeatures.”  Set that value to 1 and you won’t get the extra apps.

To do the same thing via unattend.xml, you can add a “RunSynchronous” command to set the registry value.  Something like this (make sure the <Order> value is unique and one greater than the previous RunSynchronousCommand entry):

<RunSynchronousCommand wcm:action="add">
    <Description>disable consumer features</Description>
    <Order>5</Order>
    <Path>reg add HKLM\Software\Policies\Microsoft\Windows\CloudContent /v DisableWindowsConsumerFeatures /t REG_DWORD /d 1 /f</Path>
</RunSynchronousCommand>

Comments (14)
  1. DocJelly360 says:

    Hi MIke, I’m not seeing "Cloud Content" either on a 2012r2 DC or a 2008R2 DC with the Windows 10 ADMX extensions installed in Sysvol… is there a newer version of the ADMX templates for 1511 that needs to be installed?

  2. Dan_IT says:

    Hey Mike, i have this setting applied yet im still getting new apps, i am also running your removal script to clear out windows apps like xbox, 3dbuilder etc during OSD however they come back after a short time.

  3. Xbox and 3D Builder are built-in, provisioned apps. That goes back to the previous blog posting, they need to be de-provisioned. If you do that online (in the Windows 10 OS), there’s a chance that you’ll remove the apps at the same time new versions are
    being installed from Windows Update, hence they come back. Removing them offline, before the OS boots, or building an image while not connected to the internet will generally avoid that problem.

  4. Dan_IT says:

    Hey mike, i am setting this and also running your removal script on OSD.

    Some apps, like Messaging, Skype Video, Money etc all come back after login, any ideas?

  5. J says:

    Hi Michael, how do you reinstall a built in app after its been removed? More importantly, how can I redeploy it to everyone without doing a rebuild of all the PC’s in our organization? Thank you.

  6. DavidSegura says:

    Michael, thanks for posting this. I find it very disturbing that this would be enabled by default, and that Candy Crush Soda Saga was installed on my Enterprise Edition. I have confirmed adding the registry entry prevents these "recommended" apps from
    being installed.
    https://winpeguy.wordpress.com/2015/12/06/win10-start-menu-junk-and-candy-crush-soda-saga/

    1. Pepper says:

      Even more disturbing is that as of 1607, this only works for Enterprise and above, Pro is no longer able to use this particular policy.

  7. Hi Michael, Will there be a settings to turn this on/off in MDT??

  8. Steve Walker RVA says:

    Thanks for the post. Just when I thought I had Windows 10 sysprep all figured out, Microsoft releases this TH2/November Update and screws it all up.

    One thing I noticed is the ‘pending apps’ stay for the current user. I enabled Administrator and logged in, and the Administrator start menu did not have the pending apps. Then I removed the temporary account and sysprepped the image successfully.

    I wonder what will be in store for us for TH3, no pun intended.

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    1. Pepper says:

      If this goes into “moderation” then hopefully whoever does the moderation will notice that the comment I replied to is spam, and delete both of them. Otherwise if you’re reading this it means that whoever is approving comments is not paying attention, or they aren’t moderating at all.

  10. yesbut says:

    But where in the unattend.xml do you put this run syncronous command? section 1, 2, 3, 4 ,5 6, or 7?

  11. djbrightman says:

    Thanks Michael
    Can you clarify the behavior of “DisableWindowsConsumerFeatures” on “Modern”(“Windows”) Apps such as calculator?
    When trying to access calc.exe on machine built with get “you’ll need a new app to open this calculator”…
    When trying to access Windows Store get “you’ll need a new app to open this ms-windows-store”…
    Wsreset.exe doesn’t/can’t do anything and $Env:SystemRoot\WinStore does not exist, so cannot “Add-AppxPackage -DisableDevelopmentMode -Register $Env:SystemRoot\WinStore\AppxManifest.xml”

    Do “modern” apps require Store access to function?
    Does “DisableWindowsConsumerFeatures” restrict or break this?

    Thanks

  12. Susan says:

    As of the anniversary update the GP to turn off consumer feature is not limited to enterprise/academic sku

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